Quebec man found guilty of trying to join ISIS – Montreal

A 29-year-old Quebec man has been found guilty of trying to join ISIS, in a case that legal experts say is a major test of Canada’s anti-terrorism laws. 

Ismael Habib is the first adult to proceed to trial on charges of attempting to leave Canada to participate in the activities of a terrorist group — a section of the Anti-terrorism Act enacted by the Stephen Harper government in 2013.

Habib sat still, listening intently while Quebec court Judge Serge Délisle read his decision.

Habib was arrested in February 2016, following an elaborate RCMP investigation that included a so-called Mr. Big operation.

During the ​trial, it was revealed that Habib told an undercover RCMP officer posing as a crime boss peddling fake passports that it was his “duty” to fight jihad alongside ISIS in Syria.

Unbeknownst to Habib, his confession was videotaped, and the Crown, led by federal prosecutor Lyne Décarie, entered that video as evidence to bolster its arguments.

During Habib’s testimony in his own defence, he tried to explain away his confession. He told the court he wanted to go overseas to rejoin his wife and children, who had been living abroad without him. 

He confessed to wanting to fight with ISIS, he said, because he desperately wanted the undercover officer to give him a passport — and he thought he was telling the officer what he wanted to hear. 

Credibility questioned

In his decision, Délisle rejected Habib’s version of the facts, saying he had a history of deception.

Délisle said that was inconsistent with other evidence heard in court: that he was looking online for other girlfriends and eventually moved in with another woman in Gatineau.

When he started dating the woman in Gatineau, he initially didn’t tell her he had a wife living overseas, Délisle noted. 

Defence lawyer Charles Montpetit addresses reporters following the Ismael Habib decision. (Kate McKenna/CBC )

The judge also wrote…

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